Canadian miner Frontier Lithium will form a joint venture (JV) with Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Group to boost lithium mining and processing in Ontario, Canada.

The JV will look to advance operations at Frontier Lithium’s PAK lithium mine project, the second-biggest lithium mine by size in North America, and a planned lithium chemicals conversion facility, the company said in a press statement published on Monday.

The deal was signed on Saturday. Under the agreement, Mitsubishi will acquire an initial 7.5% stake in the project for C$25m. After a definitive feasibility study (DFS), Mitsubishi will have the right to increase its interest in the JV to 25% through the purchase of additional shares at a price based on the net value of the project, which will be determined through the DFS, Frontier Lithium said.

Frontier Lithium CEO Trevor Walker called the deal a “significant milestone” for the company as it looks to become a key lithium supplier to the North American electric vehicle battery materials supply chain. “Mitsubishi’s investment reflects confidence in Ontario’s jurisdiction, the quality and scale of our asset, and Frontier’s operational expertise.”

Kota Ikenishi, general manager of the battery minerals office at Mitsubishi, added: “PAK is an outstanding lithium project, and we recognise its strategic value in ensuring a secure supply of lithium to North American markets. We are excited to build a long-term relationship with Frontier and leverage our complementary skills and capabilities to deliver PAK into production.”

The move comes after a recent memorandum of cooperation was signed between the governments of Canada and Japan to work more closely to establish sustainable and reliable global battery supply chains independent of Chinese influence.

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The companies hope to generate investments in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors, including the mining and processing of lithium and other critical minerals, which are essential to the making of energy transition technologies.